Nearly a year ago the Boston Red Sox won the World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals in 6 games. Barely a year later the Sox sent one of their best and most consistent starting pitchers, World Series Clincher winning pitcher John Lackey to those same Cardinals in a New England trade deadline sell-off like none other in recent memory. When the dust cleared, that may have been one of the least controversial of the Sawx deadline deals. In separate trades they sent longtime Ace and Boston legend John Lester along with fellow WS hero Johnny Gomes to the A’s for Yoenis Cespedis, the reigning HR Derby Champ and sent Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront two other members of the opening day rotation to the Giants and Cubs respectively. Finally born-again reliever Andrew Miller was sent to the Division Rival Orioles. But in the most controversial, albeit relatively small move, the Sawx sent Stephen Drew, the roaming Scott Boras mercenary to the arch-enemy New York Yankees for Kelly Johnson in the first Sawx/Yanks trade since 1997.
In 1997, the Red Sox sent Randy Brown & Mike Stanley to New York for Tony Armas Jr & Jim Mecir. Both the Red Sox and the Yankees had traded with every other team in MLB since then, but not each other, according to research by Cut4. Some of you may not be old enough to remember that trade or the players involved in it. I don’t remember Randy Brown but Mike Stanley was the Sox version of Dick Tidrow, the classic bullpen swingman, Jim Mecir a reliever and Tony Armas Jr was a Starting Pitcher and the son of the big time 70’s/80’s slugger with the same name. That deal never really amounted to anything and this one may not either other than Drew being able to play 2b for the first time in his career and play alongside his boyhood hero Derek Jeter. In a separate move the Yanks brought Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks mostly to play right field. It remains to be seen if either of them hits enough to help the Yanks get into the playoffs or makes their additional position eligiblilty matter.
Ok, that was a good bit of reality, but we are here to talk about fantasy. These trades and some other moves will both create and remove opportunities for some other players that may be fantasy relevant. Lets spend the next few minutes discussing those trades and the resulting Fantasy Baseball relevance on the Sox, Yanks, Cards, A’s, Giants & O’s. Tomorrow my colleague Ben Bruno will discuss the fantasy ramifications of the mammoth 3 team trade that brought David Price to the Tigers and some other smaller deals that have affected the fantasy landscape in some other parts of the country.
New York Yankees – As a Yankee fan I take no pleasure in seeing the Sox dismantle like that. The rivalry is at its best when both teams are successful, but I like the Drew addition. No, I don’t think he is the heir to the opening to his right that will be there for the first time in 20 years, but I like Stephen Drew. I think the guy hits pretty well for a middle infielder, and if he gets his stroke back he can provide some pop on the right side of the infield where Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts failed to produce. The fact that he was a Gold Glove SS means that if he can master 2b he’ll be in the lineup every day. The Martin Prado trade is equally non descript, and cost the Yanks Catching prospect Peter O’Brien. O’Brien has 33 HR in the minors this season but is blocked in the NY system by several other good catchers. The perplexing thing about this for Arizona is that Miguel Montero is signed through 2017 making O’Brien not fantasy relevant unless the D’Backs find a taker for Montero. Perhaps Bryan Luhrs will know about that situation. Prado is projected to play RF for the Yanks, a position the very versatile Prado has only played once in his career. The Yanks are gambling on two guys playing new positions to help them get to the playoffs. I’ve never been a huge Prado fan in fantasy and I don’t see his value increasing in NY, at least not this year. Ichiro is the loser here, along with Johnson and the DFA’ed Roberts, but they were barely fantasy relevant if at all anyway. The Yanks earlier moves were more fantasy friendly as I believe we will see resurgent performances from Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley. In each case, the deposed player was the one shipped out so there are no fantasy impacts to speak of other than the team switches of the players coming to the Yanks, and guaranteed playing time for Solarte in SD and Nuno in Arizona.
Baltimore Orioles, STL Cardinals – In Baltimore Andrew Miller joins a deep talented bullpen. I don’t think his value changes at all, though he may be able to accrue more Holds in Baltimore. He already has stellar ratios and K rates and should have been owned in all leagues. In St Louis, Lackey’s value increases because of the chance to get more wins, a great defense and pitching in the NL. This may not create pitching opportunity in St Louis as Michael Wacha’s eventual return may squeeze someone out, Shelby Miller or the recently acquired Justin Masterson would be the most in danger. However, this move frees up a spot for Oscar Tavaras in RF. He may be one of the biggest winners of all these trades. Two others whose value doesn’t change are Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront. Unless Peavy’s performance itself upgrades he is the same mediocre pitcher in San Francisco as he’s been in Boston. I’ve always been a big Peavy fan, but I think we are both finally worn out from it now. Doubront is injured and not assured a rotation spot when he returns and is barely fantasy relevant when healthy.
Oakland A’s – Even the A’s players don’t change much in value. Gomes will be used the same way he was in Boston (Righty Platooner) and the same could be said for Lester (Staff Ace). Lester will benefit from pitching in the AL West and in Oakland but also pitching for a contender. The loser appears to be converted reliever Jesse Chavez, at least temporarily. Hammel’s hold on the 5th spot may determine when and if Chavez gets back to a starting role. That could hurt some fantasy teams who had come to rely on Chavez steady production that seemed to appear out of nowhere in 2014. A player whose value could rise is the other A’s OF acquisition, Sam Fuld, received from the Twins in a trade for Tommy Milone. Milone was squeezed out by the Lester trade but will get to continue starting in Minnesota, albeit not in a pennant race. Fuld fits the A’s style of play and could add some steals if he increases his playing time.
Boston Red Sox – Boston is where there is now a good amount of opportunity, both for a few Sawx players, but also for fantasy teams to mine some late season talent. Cespedes is already 100% owned so the question is whether his owners will get a bump in production from him at Fenway Park. I think Boston will come to love Cespedes, both as a hitter and a fielder. Will Middlebrooks will get a chance to try to get back to where he was a year ago as an up and coming AL power hitting high average third baseman, while Xander Bogarts can settle in at his natural SS position. Mookie Betts was brought back up to possibly steal at bats from Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field and Alan Craig could rob Daniel Nava of AB’s if he starts to hit like he did the last few seasons. There is a huge opportunity in Boston’s rotation now that Clay Bucholz is the only remaining opening day starter and now erstwhile Ace of the Sawx. Rubby DeLarosa, Joe Kelly, Brandon Workman and Allen Webster all get a shot to make a name for themselves and line themselves up for a spot in the 2015 rotation. Boston’s awesome bullpen is still intact and the offense is actually stronger, leaving them still a team to reckon with in the AL East.
These were some big name trades, as well some other useful fantasy players changed teams. As for the players, I would want to target some guys after these trades who hopefully are still available in your league. It is doubtful Oscar Tavaras, STL is available still but if so find a way to get him. I think if you need help at 2b Stephen Drew, NY may be worth a shot. Prado, NY is surely owned but McCarthy, NY and even Headley, NY could still be available on the wire or cheaply in trade, and I think they both are fantasy relevant the rest of the way. Rubby DeLarosa, Bos should be owned already, and if so I’d take a chance on Allen Webster, Bos. Teams in deep leagues who need SP help should also look at Workman and Smith both of Bos. Will Middlebrooks, Bos would be very high on my list, especially if I’ve been living with the production of Pedro Alvarez, Pit, Mike Moustakas, KC or Lonnie Chisenhall, Cle among others. I wouldn’t drop Chavez, Oak yet, but I also would not rush out and spend too much on Fuld, Oak, but I think he could be useful. Finally Mookie Betts, Bos might be a guy to pick up, especially if you already have Jackie Bradley Jr., hah, but we all got a glimpse of both their upsides earlier in the year.
I hope your teams were not negatively impacted by these big trades and that you have a chance to pick up some of the talent that will rise from them. Remember tomorrow to read Ben Bruno’s take on the rest of the trades including the big three-way blockbuster that brought David Price, TB to the Tigers.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio This Monday August 4th from 1pm-2pm EST we will have two guests – Bryan Luhrs and Ryan Bishop. Bryan is the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports, an author for MLFS, and also an owner in baseball & football. Ryan is one of the original owners in our leagues who is in year 7 with us, and he is a good source of information and opinion. We will be discussing potential minor league call ups, what impact they could have, and the latest fantasy relevant information. You can call in live at 646.915.8596, you can listen online live, or you can download the podcast.